The two Bills that triggered the nation's double
dissolution election, namely, the Registered Organisations Bill
2014 and the Building and Construction Industry (Improving
Productivity) Bill 2013, have passed through
The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Act
This legislation has already commenced. Broadly, this
establishes an independent watchdog, the Registered
Organisations Commission, with enhanced investigation and
information gathering powers to monitor and regulate registered
provides for the appointment, functions and powers of a
Registered Organisations Commission Commissioner who will take over
the current investigatory, enforcement and advisory
responsibilities in relation to the registered organisations role
of the Fair Work Commission;
increases the requirements for officers' disclosure of
material personal interests (including financial accounting and
disclosure obligations) and changes the grounds for
disqualification and ineligibility for office; and
substantially increases civil penalties and introduces criminal
offences for serious breaches of officers' duties and new
offences in relation to the conduct of investigations.
Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity)
The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will
replace the Fair Work Building and Construction Commission.
In addition to restoring the ABCC, the legislation will:
expand the definition of 'building work' subject to
ABCC oversight to cover the transportation or supply of goods to
building sites and offshore resources platforms;
prohibit coercion, discrimination and unenforceable
create new prohibitions on organising or taking unlawful
industrial action, or unlawful picketing;
increase penalties for unlawful industrial action from $10,800
to $34,000 for individuals, and from $54,000 to $170,000 for
corporate entities (including unions).
The same penalties apply to disruptive picketing.
This legislation is expected to commence shortly, upon receiving
And in Queensland
The Industrial Relations Bill 2016 (Qld) passed through
Parliament in Queensland and will commence on a date to be
proclaimed. The new legislation will introduce a range of employee
rights, including general protections, anti-bullying laws and the
introduction of a 'mutual trust and confidence'
What does this mean for employers?
It is expected that the federal legislation will assist
employers to combat unlawful union activity, particularly in the
Employers covered by the Queensland legislation (such as the
state public sector) are likely to be exposed to more employee
Article written by Belinda Winter, Annie Smeaton and Megan
Winner – EOWA Employer of Choice for Women Citation 2009,
2010, 2011 and 2012
Winner – ALB Gold Employer of Choice 2011 and 2012
Finalist – ALB Australasian Law Awards 2008, 2010, 2011 and
2012 (Best Brisbane Firm)
Winner – BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 and 2010 - Best
Australian Law Firm (revenue less than $50m)
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